This is a really great live performance by Death Cab for Cutie. I was trying to think who singer Ben Gibbard’s voice reminds me of, when it suddenly hit me: he sounds like a less edgy version of Stan Ridgway from Wall of Voodoo.
(Their name, by the way, comes from a song by another of my favorite bands, the wacky British Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band.)
Death Cab For Cutie came as a trio: Ben Gibbard sang, Nick Harmer played bass, and we wheeled in our piano for Zac Rae. This intimate set included two new songs — including “Black Sun,” the first single from their new album Kintsugi.
The album title refers to the Japanese art of reassembling broken pottery and making the breakage part of the newly formed pot. Death Cab For Cutie, a groundbreaking band formed in 1997, has gone through its own rebuilding of sorts. Chris Walla, a founding member of the band, has left, after contributing music to Kintsugi, but that’s his farewell offering.
Death Cab For Cutie is still strongly defined by Gibbard’s words, and that couldn’t be more evident in this beautifully stark performance, which also includes “No Room In Frame” from Kintsugi, as well as two stripped-down favorites from the past. One, “Your Heart Is An Empty Room,” is from Plans, while a beautiful love song from Transatlanticism, “Passenger Seat,” moistened more than a few eyes in the crowd.
“Black Sun” 0:07
“No Room In Frame” 5:13
“Your Heart Is An Empty Room” 9:23
“Passenger Seat” 14:00
Producers: Bob Boilen, Maggie Starbard; Audio Engineer: Kevin Wait; Videographers: Maggie Starbard, Carlos Waters; Assistant Producer: Emily Jan; photo by Emily Jan/NPR